Monday, November 30, 2009

chili reincarne...?

So I had a bunch of turkey.  Shocker, I know.  And I wanted to not make Thanksgiving Part 4 for dinner and I didn't want to make turkey pot pie, or turkey shepherd's pie or turkey soup - so I whizzed it in the food processor and made some 2 Bean Spicy Turkey Chili with a Cornbread Hat.  Not hard.  I even cheated and used the chili seasoning mix (doctored with more chili powder, garlic powder, red pepper flakes and cumin).  I chopped an onion and a clove of garlic and browned, threw in whizzed turkey, heated it, tossed in spices and heated until fragrant.  I then added 1 1/2 big cans of whole peeled tomatoes, hand crushed and that tiny, cute can of tomato paste.  2 cans of white kidney beans and 1 can of black beans for the beanage and simmer for 1/2 hour or so and heck yeah! 

Spoon into crocks and top with cornbread mix (I use Jiffy Corn Muffin mix - it's like 12 cents a box or something and perfect) and bake in a 400 degree oven about 25 minutes.

Excellent use of turkey in a very unthanksgiving way.  If I had more turkey I would do turkey enchiladas too.  Maybe next year.  :)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

troy farmer's market food find

Marshmallows!  They had lots of kinds (passionfruit!  cardamom!  vanilla!) but I went for chocolate.

Friday, November 27, 2009

well THAT'S over.

Not that I don't like Thanksgiving.  Because I do.  But I am glad it's over.  Cooking a big meal like that for two people just seems silly.  I didn't do anything major- just a turkey breast, stuffing, mashed potatoes, honey roasted root vegetables and a red wine caramel apple pie for dessert.  I bought way too much cheese and crackery stuff to snack on beforehand, as always, but all was good.

But it's over.  And now all I feel is the mild panic of upcoming Christmas.  Not about the food (although that has its stresses) but about everything else.  Presents, ideas, shopping, etc.  Blech.

So I will stay in for most of Black Friday (ew - the thought of standing on line for any Christmas something makes me want to puke) except for Tight Knit tonight.  Then I will tackle the thought of Christmasing tomorrow.  Just the thought, though.

Hope you all are happy and full and enjoying leftovers.  Stuffing is better the next day, anyway.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pork. Boubon. Dijon. Dinner.

So I made this (from the lovely Ashley's flog) last night because I had taken out some thick cut pork chops and I always blank out on ideas when it comes to pork.  I usually do a veggie brown rice fried rice with small cubes of pork thingy, but I wasn't up for that last night.  Plus I usually serve it with yummy Asian Market dumplings of which I have none of currently (no room in freezer).  I have been wanting something easy to make, and this was it.  A few ingredients in a ziploc bag, 1/2 hour in the fridge, thicken reserved marinade while you cook the chops and woohoo!  The sauce from the marinade was delicious - very bourbon-y but it made sense, wasn't intrusive, and the sweetness and dijon really shone through.

I served it with roasted beets tossed with a tiny bit of balsamic (I am now officially liking beets), some sauteed beet greens and some squash.  I bought a whole load of root veggies with the intent to make this (by the way, please make that.  Make lots and lots of it.  It is so insanely good) but I ended up going simple with the beets and squash because I wasn't up for monumental choppage.

Either way - perfection for a weeknight and great for pork.

holy crApp

So I was Thanksgiving food shopping with C and I whined wondered aloud about the fact that there wasn't an app for my iPhone that centered around a shopping list I could input then check off as I go.  I like to make random statements like that without any research.  C thoughtfully remarked, "Um.  Don't you think there probably IS an app that does something like that?"

Upon searching for about three seconds the next day I found about seven apps that did that.  Reviews for a few are here. 

I think I might buy the "Grocery Gadget" one - it looks like it does a little more than just create a check off list and I like the idea of creating several lists for different stores...and even putting some pictures next to items for the weird stuff that's hard to find (Asian Market, anyone?).

Plus, I walk around the store with my phone anyway - usually obsessively refreshing Facebook - so at least I can use the phone more constructively while shopping.  If I actually had music on my phone (I use my Pod for music, phone for everything else) the phone would be a PERFECT gadget to bring food shopping as I usually like to put headphones on while I shop so no one talks to me.  Maybe I will download a shopping playlist onto the phone just for that purpose.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Quorn for everyone!

I know I should be writing about things I cook, not premade things I buy and shove in my foodhole, but I cannot pass up talking about Quorn.

Remember that chicken patty sammy you had in gradeschool?  It was breaded and mass produced and mass prepared and perfect.  Remember how it probably had more heinies and lips in it than it probably had chicken?  Well - welcome to Quorn: The Non-Chicken Chicken Patty That Is Good For You and Tastes Just Like Third Grade.

You can find these in most supermarkets and of course at the Co Op.  But let me tell you about what Quorn is.  It's mycoprotein.  Mycowhowho? 

Micoprotein.  "The principal ingredient in all Quorn products is mycoprotein (“myco” is Greek for “fungi”). The mycoprotein comes from Fusarium venenatum, which was originally discovered growing in a field in Buckinghamshire, England. In the late 1960s, initial product development began, soon recognizing mycoprotein’s potential as an efficient and nutritious protein source."  ( info here.

Anyfakechicken, this stuff is awesome.  I started with just the basic model, Chik'n Patties. (By the way, I love that taking out/changing a few letters then legally allows you to not put anything related to the word in the thing.  Example:  You want to make something seem like fish but you call it "Fisssssssssssshe" which would legally allow you to make your product out of veal, but sell it like it's fish.  Awesome.)  So the Chik'n Patty is awesome.  Total school food heaven.  Slap that thing on a soft, white bun and hello school cafeteria.  Serve it with too soft and overly salted french fries and you'll be looking to sign up to be a class helper and pass out the crayons to the class in no time.

Today I took a step up and graduated to the Quorn Cranberry & Goat Cheese Chik'n Cutlet and wow!  I would like to be buried with a box of these please so I can take them to the World Beyond with me.  Holy yum.  I kind of felt like having a glass of wine with this, but I was at school and they frown upon drinking wine out of a Nalgene while I am teaching literature (strange, that) so I just had my boring lemony water with it.  I brought one for lunch and just threw it in the microwave so I am excited to try it after I cook it properly in the oven.  And when I got those I also got a box of Quorn Gruy√®re Cutlets  which now I CANNOT WAIT to try.  And there are a lot more Quorn products that I will now look for, and obsess over.

The worst thing about Quorn?  Well that has to be the name.  I hate telling people about it and saying "So there's this stuff called Quorn, but it's spelled with a Q-U-O-R-N and there is no corn in it and it's chicken but it's not chicken."  Sheesh.

Either way - go ahead and get some.  But don't forget to wear your galoshes.  And clean your room when you get back.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Eff Panini Presses. For real.

Just kidding.  Well...sort of.

I will continue my sad, sad panini adventure.

After I bought the press I realized I had really nothing to make paninis with (not the sad part).

I went to two stores for panini guts, I wanted to keep the first one simple.  Price Chopper for good roast beef, brie, roasted reds, artichokes (I had some pesto at home).  Co op for Rockhill Bakehouse bread - sourdough.  (Probably should have done the brie there but I wasn't thinking clearly.)  Oh, and chocolate.  But not for the panini (not the sad part).

Long story short here:  So, I made them.  And they sucked (the sad part).  They sucked so bad I didn't even have mine.  I was so absolutely disgusted I cleaned up the kitchen and went to bed.  I was even thinking about returning Benvolio!

Yep.  I had a panini tantrum.  C ate his and was perfectly happy with it.  I threw mine out.  The reason was - Sog Factor.  They were so gross and soggy looking when I pulled them off the press I wanted to cry (I take making dinner a little too seriously, I know - but I really feel a sense of failure when something I make doesn't turn out.  Especially something I have been excited about).  It turns out that they crisped up after they were taken off the press, but I was so highly annoyed by then I didn't even want it.  Why yes, I am an only child, why do you ask?

Happy Ending:
I read up on it.  You wouldn't think I needed to know that much about grilling a damn sandwich but I did learn some things in my research.  Reasons why Panini One failed:
  • roast beef waaaay too juicy
  • roasted reds wicked wet, if I want to you them I have to consider better placement
  • sourdough bread not dense enough - too holey
  • didn't brush the bread with oil
Anyway - some lessons learned.  I tried again today and was much more successful.  I need to find some better bread...and maybe try some less juicy guts.

All in all, Benvolio will stay.  I look forward to not hating him a whole bunch.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Adventures in Panini Part 1

You knew it. (grilled cheese panini!) 
I knew it. ( monte cristo panini!)
I had to have it. (p b and j on raisin bread panini!)

I whipped myself into a froth earlier today thinking about it.  So I got it.  I will now panini the crap out of everything.  Beware.  Tuesday night I think will be Panini Night for awhile (thanksgiving panini - turkey, cheese, cranberry mayo, stuffing!)

To complicate things more, Macy's was having a one day sale and for some reason I reconfigured Crossgates in my mind to contain both Macy's and William-Sonoma  on the same side.  And I am wearing uncomfortable heels.  So I parked by Macy's, scoffed at what they call a sale (marked up items marked down to regular price - I was looking for panini presses and presure cookers) then had to hoof it across the whole mall to get to WS to see if I even LIKED the one I have been drooling about.  And I did.  Oh boy did I.  It has heft, some neat adjustable things about it and gets really hot - which means possibly cooking other stuff in there too.  It also can be stored standing up (it has wittle feet!) and looks prett durn easy to clean (as all things nonstick usually are).

Don't worry - I didn't get any of the spreads they had so handsomely displayed nearby.  I can make my own damn olive tapenade chutney lemon wasabi delight.

I was there to buy the press, so I bought the press, and while they were in the back getting it I helped myself to some hot cider.  Yum.  I like free things.  Especially when I am about to pay 80 bucks for something I don't really need at all but want passionately.  This nice man rung me up...

and I was on my way.  Across the entire mall.  Carrying a heavy-ass panini press.

In the car I realized I had no panini guts residing in my household currently. Or good bread.  A leftover eggplant lasagna on diet wheat bread panini was NOT the way I wanted to break in Benvolio (which is what I just named my new panini press).   So this meant I had to go to more stores.  Which I was kind of ok with. 

More on how this paninipalooza turns out later...

Panini Me Me

Soooo... a little while ago I got this in my email...

and now I think about it a lot.  Probably more than a normal person should.  Like on my commute home (40 minutes!  That is a LOT of time to paniniponder!).  Or when I am checking my email.  And sometimes in the shower.  And when I am cooking other things.  SO...usually when I devote that much brain time to things, it means I want them.  And I will probably, even if I can't really afford to, buy them.

BECAUSE I WANT TO PANINI THINGS!  I feel bad for C because then he will be forced to eat all things panini.  I got gigantic muffin pans and that poor man has been eating different flavored gigantic muffin creations for months.

And yes, I do have a cast iron pan with the raised grill lines which is good, but I REALLY like the idea of being able to truly control the heat with the press, and also being able to walk away from the thing and have things not burn into a volcano rock.  And my cast iron pan is not that big.  And it suuuhuuhuucks to clean.

AND I WANT TO PANINI THINGS!  Grilled cheese sammies with ham and yummy veggie things with pesto mayo and using awesome bread and MAYBE EVEN DESSERT PANINIS WITH NUTELLA (and bananas).

Now here's the deal - panini makers come in all flavors and sizes.  Some are amazing.  Some are just awful.  Some are ok.  Some are called George Foreman Grills (which are NOT panini presses, btw).  And without walking into Williams-Sonoma I am going to guess that the one they are hawking is pretty good. It probably has good weight and great electronics that will last and some awesome easyclean plates that come out and tap dance into your dishwasher for you.  But I am sure if i did a little research I can find something comparable online/Ebay/Marshalls Homestore/back alley black market panini scalper. 

But I just kind of want to...

go and buy this today on my way home. 

And panini the crap out of something tonight.

Monday, November 16, 2009

wants and whines.

I want to go to this.  And don't be grossed out, but maybe even this.

I guess I could drive to these events, it's not that far but I want things like this to happen HERE.  Albany has the eaters.  We have the desire.  Why,why,why can't we get ourselves together?

Or am I just missing these things because I remained uninformed?

And I want to start a supper club where we eat at people's houses all themey-like and everybody brings food and chats and drinks wine.

And I want a pony.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dear Eggplant,

We are not friends.  I keep trying to be friends with you but you continue to be difficult.  Maybe I don't know how to be friends with you.

Maybe I don't want to have to do the work to be friends with you.  Maybe you even scare me a little bit.  But I want to love you.

 Yet you scorn me.

Remember that cafe in Florence where you were covered in sauce and greasy and you gave me a stomachache?  Remember how you were the worst meal I had in the whole three weeks I was there?  What happened?

A few weeks ago I baked you up with disgusting results.  You went straight from the oven, into a tupperware then into the garbage a week later.

And now yesterday.  I salted you, yet in my eggplant lasagna you still wept.  You wept an ocean making my meal runny and tasteless even though I did so much work to prevent it.

Eggplant, how many more chances should I give you?  I don't know - you just keep making me sad.  Please eggplant, stop making me so so sad.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Creo Visit

I went to Creo last night in Stuy Plaza.  It was very nice inside (standard high ceilings, beige curtains, "you can come in jeans or a party dress and still feel comfortable" feel)  and we had a good meal.  A little pricey, but I was prepared for that.  I loved this on their menu:

Water, a diminishing natural resource, is available upon request

Oh please. 

"No water for me, waitress.  I will drink only expensive wine, because that is NOT a diminishing natural resource, unlike water.  Don't give me any of that water stuff.  I want to save the world."

They also had some fancy wording for some dishes. I can't seem to find them on their online menu but the one we had at the restaurant had some excellent foodie titles.  It reminded me of this:

Excerpt from David Sedaris' "Today's Special."

As a rule, I'm no great fan of eating out in New York...SoHo is not a macaroni salad kind of place. This is where the world's brightest young talents come to braise carmelized racks of corn-fed songbirds or offer up their famous knuckle of flash-seared crappie served with a collar of chided ginger and cornered by a tribe of kiln-roasted Chilean toadstools, teased with a warm spray of clarified musk oil. Even when they promise something simple, they've got to tart it up - the meatloaf has been poached in seawater, or there are figs in the tuna salad. If cooking is an art, I think we're in our Dada phase.

I've never thought of myself as a particularly finicky eater, but it's hard to be a good sport when each dish seems to include no fewer than a dozen ingredients, one of which I'm bound to dislike. I'd order skirt steak with a medley of suffocated peaches, but I'm put off by the aspirin sauce. The sea scallops look good until I'm told they're served in a broth of malt liquor and mummified litchi nuts. What I really want is a cigarette, and I'm always searching the menu in the hope that some courageous young chef has finally recognized tobacco as a vegetable. Bake it, steam it, grill it, or stuff it into littleneck clams, I just need something familiar that I can hold on to...I order a [hot dog] with nothing but mustard, and am thrilled to watch the vendor present my hot dog in a horizontal position. So simple and timeless that I can recognize it, immediately, as food."
So true.  Creo piled their potatoes high and stuck a homemade potato chip on top.  I saw an appetizer for another table which was very precariously balanced and I am guessing had some magically flavored foodglue keeping it together.
Either way:
 He - Lump Crabmeat Pesto Risotto app, Veal & wild mushroom meatloaf with Creo' mashed potatoes dinner
 Me - Caesar & shaved parmigiano reggiano app, Grilled New York sirloin served with a rich demi glace & finished with roquefort dinner
Us - 7 layer chocolate moussed mocha torte four layers of dark chocolate espresso cake, layered with chocolate mousse & frosted with mocha buttercream dessert
His wild mushroom gravy was insanely good, meatloaf awesome as well, my steak perfectly grilled (something I suck at myself) and the pesto risotto was very good as well.  Dessert was eh - we both decided that my flourless chocolate cake tasted better than their 97 layer chocotorte.
Fun night, good food.  I will go again but there are so many other places to try!